Whatever your age or fitness level, we can all be part of something really special, while taking steps towards better health and wellbeing
parkrun for the NHS is being held in various locations across the UK this July – and is the perfect opportunity for those who want to begin their journey to a more active lifestyle to join in the fun, according to community services healthcare provider, Connect Health.
Connect Health got involved in the events in celebration of 75 years of the NHS – with employees volunteering, cheering on the participants and taking part themselves.
Taking place on Saturday 8th (parkrun) and Sunday 9th July (junior parkrun – for 4- to 14-year-olds), ‘parkrun for the NHS’ events were held up and down the country to mark the NHS’s anniversary.
Mike Carpenter, consultant MSK (musculoskeletal) clinician, head of clinical delivery (South) and MSK national lead for Connect Health, described the NHS 75 parkrun as “a great opportunity for people to take steps towards improved health and wellbeing by walking, jogging, running, volunteering or coming along and clapping on the sidelines.”
“Everyone at Connect Health is hugely excited to be joining the events. parkrun is all about participation and getting moving – whatever your level of fitness. Many people will be walking the course, so you definitely don’t need to be able to run. It’s all about togetherness, being more active and celebrating 75 years of our NHS.
From countless studies and our own work in the local community, we know the positive impact that even very gentle movement can have on physical and mental health. People of all ages can join in the fun, so why not bring your friends, your family members, your colleagues or just head down to your nearest parkrun on your own and be part of something very special.”
Mike compiled a list of top tips for getting involved in the events safely, regardless of age or fitness level:
● Persistent/chronic pain doesn’t mean you can’t join in – movement and exercise can often help to ease pain, but it’s likely you’ll need to start slowly and find an activity level that works for you. Don’t put yourself under ‘performance pressure’, especially when starting out – which leads us onto the next, very important tip…
● Enjoy yourself! The parkrun event is all about having fun, with others, outside in the fresh air – it offers a chance to meet new people, plus it’s a great motivator and provides some accountability, meaning you’re more likely to continue. And enjoying yourself will also increase the likelihood of sticking with it over time, gradually improving your fitness as you go.
● And if health reasons do prevent you from walking or running around the course, you can still join in and be part of the fun as a volunteer or ‘cheerleader’.
● If you have any existing medical conditions (such as heart or lung conditions), it is advisable to consult a medical professional. It may be that your GP or health provider will give you the go-ahead to commence, but they can advise more specifically depending on your own circumstances.
● Remember to give your body the chance to adapt when starting new or more physical activity. Muscles and joints respond to movement, but sudden increases can make it difficult for the body to adapt quickly enough. Start steady and build up gradually, rather than trying to do twice as much the next time. Recovery (incorporating factors such as a healthy diet, rest breaks and sleep) is also important for this process.
● If you are choosing to walk, jog or run, take the time – five to ten minutes minimum – to warm up properly. This helps to prepare the body for activity you are about to engage with. Simple moves like knee bends and shoulder rolls can make a big difference in preparing your body – there are some good warm-up suggestions at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/running-and-aerobic-exercises/how-to-warm-up-before-exercising/.
● With temperatures rising in some parts of the country, it’s important to prepare for the weather conditions on the day – staying properly hydrated before the event and ensuring you have water with you as you complete your parkrun is certainly sensible. If it’s really hot, take breaks around the route – and if you start feeling dizzy or light-headed, stop your run/walk and speak to a volunteer.
● And a final reminder to take a moment to enjoy the sense of euphoria and satisfaction of taking part – which is likely to keep you coming back for more!
parkrun’s Chrissie Wellington said:
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with the NHS across the UK to celebrate its 75th anniversary. We know that participating in parkrun is incredibly beneficial to people’s mental and physical health, and best of all the events are local, they are accessible, they are free, and they are fun! They’re also there every week, and we’d love to see those taking part continue to join us in the future.
‘parkrun for the NHS’ is the perfect way for us to increase awareness of parkrun across the health sector while at the same time paying tribute to the enormous and incredibly valuable contribution of NHS staff and volunteers to the health of our nation.”
For more information, visit: https://www.connecthealth.co.uk/events/connect-health-is-supporting-parkrun-for-the-nhs/. New parkrun participants can register at www.parkrun.org.uk.